So this is a thing.
In recent years, Canada and Canadian production companies have been the only shining light in the world of SF television. This is fine, as long as one can manage to handle the ‘ooot’ sound Canadians put into words like ‘about’ (not making fun; it’s just a thing that Canadian accents do); but it’s a little annoying that only the loft party nation can give us television scifi. Killjoys and Dark Matter are two of the latest shows.
Killjoys focuses on space bounty hunters, and (as far as I’ve seen) is more or less an action SF story with some romance and ‘mystery/conspiracy’ elements. More of the love than the mystery. I honestly don’t know if it’s any good. I’ve watched all of it. I don’t hate it. But I can’t honestly say that I like it. I just don’t know. I feel like they don’t really know where they want to go with the story. I know I don’t like how it seemed to push into a love angle in lieu of any other sort of plot as the first season wrapped up. To be clear, I don’t object to love stories; I just felt like this one basically came out of nowhere and was pretty forced. It’s also unnecessary; three bounty hunters, one woman and two brothers, and we have to get two of them into bed? Why? Tracking bounties and dealing with their bounty hunter organization wasn’t enough? Must we go kissy-kissy?
Dark Matter, though, is the one I’m a fan of. It’s just really, really working for me. As long as they don’t screw the concept up, I think there’s a lot of fun material we can play around with. The concept is six people find themselves on a spaceship with no memory of their pasts. We pretty quickly find out the six of them are despicable and selfish bounty hunters, with reputations for doing nasty things for money. As the show’s gone on, we (along with the individual characters) have begun learning some things about their pasts. The thing I like about this whole setup is we have a situation where these apparently evil bastards have a second chance. When they begin to learn what they were, they seem kind of taken back by their former selves. Some of them are actively determined to not be like that anymore. That’s an interesting character point that there’s a lot of meat in. Even the ‘asshole’ of the crew is still an ass with a heart of gold, mostly; so none of them are descending back into evil.
The worst thing Dark Matter could do to screw their show up would be to give the mains their memories back. Don’t do it! The story’s in them reestablishing their new selves, in choosing to move forward from this fresh start they’ve got. There can be some ‘solve the mystery’ elements as to details of their pasts, of how they got their memories erased and why, but the show’s over if some magic machine or whatever fills the holes in their heads. That should never happen.
On the plus side, the acting’s solid across the board. There are a lot of hooks that’ve been set for each character, that offer a lot of future fun to be had. One’s the heir of a empire who’s been trained basically since he could stand as a badassed martial artist. Another was a rebel freedom fighter that betrayed his rebel faction. A third isn’t even the person he was pretending to be before the memory wipe incident; layers in layers there if it’s written well. One isn’t even human, but a human-replica android that can apparently pass a casual medical scan. There’s a guy who had a affair/almost-marriage with a terminally ill good woman even while he was a dirty evil bastard. And so on.
The season ends on a big cliffhanger, which in lieu of today’s news seems like an especially asshole move on the part of the showrunners. Not only do we have no closure for the next year while they fumble around getting a second season shot, but since the renewals were only approved very recently (long after the first season was actually shot and finished), they risked having any fans left hanging. I’m sorry, but creators, that’s a dick move. Don’t cliffhanger fans like that. Star Trek Next Generation didn’t know they’d have Season 4 when they ended Season 3 with Picard a Borg and Riker ordering the Enterprise to fire on the cube. The examples go on for quite a while. Dick move. Don’t do that to fans. Closure. Wrap your threads up unless you have an iron clad lock on being able to continue the story. And even then, making fans wait a year to get on with the story . . . it’s not cool.
This gets a little into the rarefied backstage soap opera of movie making, but it will probably have some effects on how the movies play out. At least a little.
Short version is Kevin Feige is the President of Marvel Studios; the final go-no-go guy for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s been overseeing the MCU since 2008’s Iron Man. It is fair to say he’s part of why the MCU is working. Part of. He has been reporting to the COO of Marvel Entertainment, Ike Perlmutter. The short version on Perlmutter is he’s very miserly with money; nickel-and-diming at every opportunity. That’s all fine and well for a COO, but it’s also how you piss off the talent who work on and in your movies. Especially when those movies are making money by the trainload. Telling Chris Evans or Chris Pratt “yeah, thanks for being so popular and good that the movies are raking bucks in; but we’re not giving you any sort of fair piece of the loot”, replacing Evans or Pratt with the effects crews or writers or other actors or basically everyone who works on the flicks, is a really good way to see them tell you to take a flying leap. Then we all start wondering why the movies are getting worse. Because when talent leaves, that’s what happens. That’s why we call them talent.
Disney owns Marvel, same as they own Lucasfilm. This news has Feige being restructured to still be in charge of the MCU, but now reporting to Disney’s Studio chairman Alan Horn. Horn isn’t anything like the ‘problem’ Perlmutter is. And Horn’s marching orders are to keep the good times rolling in the MCU. So odds are, as we move forward, Feige will be given the sort of latitude he’s proven he’s earned to handle the reins. As long as the movies keep coming out and pleasing fans, Horn should be happy and not obsessed with bitching about how they should’ve cost less.
As someone who absolutely loves the MCU, I’m happy with this news. Happy, happy, happy. Bring it on. More Marvel. Less penny pinching. Just the movies alone are making money like magic money printing machines. DVD and merchandising are globs of icing on an already awesome cake. Then you have spinoff properties, theme park tie ins, etc… There’s no reason to quibble over every last dime that goes on the expense side of the ledger. That ledger is not gushing red. It’s black, black, black. Beautiful black.
So let them spend some of it. Good job Disney for fixing this lingering high-level personnel problem. Now, please, find a way to talk Chris Evans into not walking out on the Captain American role when his contract’s up. He’s so perfect for it.